In a new book out this month, Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond tells another side of the eviction story. In "Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City," Desmond introduces us not only to families whose lives have been decimated by eviction, but also to the landlords that profit off of their situation. In his telling, eviction is not just a consequence of poverty, but a cause of it as well, and poverty is not just an absolute or even relative condition of the poor, but an inextricable relationship between rich and poor where the deprivation of one contributes to the enrichment of the other.
Ultimately, Desmond advocates for increasing housing vouchers to support low-income Americans' ability to afford decent housing and avoid eviction. From my perspective at ACCT, this is only a piece of the puzzle. Supporting institutions like ACCT can help us increase housing supply at affordable price points. It can also increase our capacity to serve hard-to-serve tenants and to be more flexible in addressing their needs. When affordable housing organizations are underfunded, we have very little leeway to absorb losses and spend time finding alternate solutions for tenants who can’t pay the rent, or making sure we set aside enough money for maintenance and capital needs.
"Evicted" has sparked a conversation on the role of affordable housing in poverty alleviation; we look forward to being a part of the solution in Addison County.